The Fifties

Narrated by: Robertson Dean
Length: 34 hrs and 44 mins
Categories: History, Americas
4.5 out of 5 stars (269 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

The Fifties is a sweeping social, political, economic, and cultural history of the 10 years that Halberstam regards as seminal in determining what our nation is today. Halberstam offers portraits of not only the titans of the age: Eisenhower, Dulles, Oppenheimer, MacArthur, Hoover, and Nixon; but also of Harley Earl, who put fins on cars; Dick and Mac McDonald and Ray Kroc, who mass-produced the American hamburger; Kemmons Wilson, who placed his Holiday Inns along the nation's roadsides; U-2 pilot Gary Francis Powers; Grace Metalious, who wrote Peyton Place; and "Goody" Pincus, who led the team that invented "the pill".

A New York Times best seller

©2012 David Halberstam (P)2018 Random House Audio

What listeners say about The Fifties

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one of the very best

I have listened to hundreds of audible books, and this is without question one of the best.
Halberstam's writing, coupled with Dean's reading is sublime perfection-if you will excuse my redundancy.

At 34 hours it may seem daunting to begin, but I was longing for more at its end.

A hearty Bravo to both for this gem.

14 people found this helpful

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Best book of the year

Scholarly and down to earth this book is full of wonderful memories and insight into the post World War Two decade. I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of this astounding book.

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Too much about the political during the 50’s.

Narrator is good. Content emphasizes covering the political of the era. I was disappointed author not writing more content about the 50’s beyond the political.

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Like a box of jewels!

Each chapter is a delight. It either explains something you have heard of all your life but never really knew much about, or it vividly recalls something dear to your heart. Anyone born in the 50's will find this book fascinating.

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The author did his work! it's a fascinating decade

I knew of the author. David Halberstam, from his book on the Kennedy administration, "The Best and The Brightest." However, this book about the "Fifties" climbs into every nook and cranny of the '50s and it's happenings. From the start of our "on the ground involvement in Vietnam (and why) to the convention that picks Kennedy to run against Nixon. In particular, I found the Korean War section very enlightening. I came away thinking that Eisenhower was a very good president of our USA. I was born in 1956. So, the actual events were before my remembrances started. That's why I thought I'd try this book. The other thing to mention is that the author is a journalist and writes from that perspective. The reader is a good match and gets every word correctly pronounced. Also, the reader is a good actor when he needs to be. The actual beginnings of the book nicely unpack the Brown v Board of Education Supreme Court decision (9-0). And throughout the book, Halberstam pays close attention to every part of the Civil Rights movement that occurs during the '50s. I'm going to go out on a limb here. I believe that the author is one of the 20th centuries' best. Bar none. He worked hard. And it paid off. I may purchase the hardback for my physical library. It's a fabulous listen and probably a great read as well as listen. Enjoy!

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What a wild ride!

This book focuses on individuals who lived in and helped bring about a revolution - actually many revolutions - in American life. It really is eye opening to learn what was really happening when we were growing up. Superbly written.

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Engrossing book, imperfect structure

I have been hearing about this book for years and finally took the plunge. I started it and almost gave up because the book started in the middle of the story, assuming the reader knew all the details of people like Alger Hiss, but it turns out that was just the introduction. Once you get to Chapter 3 (on the Audible markings) it becomes a clear and thoughtful book which gives a great overall impression of important figures and events of the 50s and what shaped them. I was entranced. Yes, it didn't cover everything (polio being one notable exception), but I learned a lot about the time period and the book cleared up some common misconceptions of the time for me. I also gained new insights into things I thought I knew about subjects such as I Love Lucy. My main critique is that the book didn't have a good final chapter--often at the end of a book an author will give some conclusions, talk about a summary thesis, or wrap things up with a sense of closure. This book just ends. After a long book, that was very frustrating. The narrator was good, but I could have used more vocal variety from his delivery. This is definitely a worthwhile listen if you're interested in the time period.

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Interested in most chapters

Thing I liked the most was that I was interested in almost chapters even if boring the writing and the performance was pretty good

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A MUST listen, read and enjoy!

As a graduate with a degree in US history I was quite skeptical of a 34 hour audio book with some of the reviews about "too much politics". I splurged as I had a lot of Audible credits to use. Needless to say I could not be more pleased! This book is fantastic as a book. I bought the text to primer myself for the audiobook. I'd seen the History Channel series way back in the late 1990's so the framework was there. Neither the book nor the videos alone are a comparison to Robertson Dean's narration of the text. Wow, WoW, WOW! Yes, you have to love Robertson Dean's narration style but how can you not with this fantastic subject? His rendition of The Power Broker and this are FANTASTIC! Enough said on that.

As for the content of the book or audio book I was blown away with detail. Sure, for a quick read or listen these are not the book. For those that want a thorough understanding, read or listen to this. Also view the History Channel videos. I wish this book, audiobook and video series had been around when I did my undergraduate work in the early 1980's.. Every fact was spot on to what I learned through my own research.

Thank you David Halbertam and Robertson Dean for a great Audible Audiobook!

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An Era's History in Short Stories

Loved this book & learned a lot from it. In his distinctive, reporting as literature, style, Halberstam captures the essence of the era. His chapters are a series of well-paced & well-linked short stories unto themselves that taken together tell a larger tale. Much of the history is familiar, of course, but Halberstam always manages to educate with previously unknown nuggets of knowledge & paints pictures of people, places & times that are powerfully real. The effect is not only a series of "Aha!" moments, but a bigger sense of understanding. From the Cold War, to McDonald's & Holiday Inns, to television, to integration, to sports & beyond, the narrative teaches as it entertains. The reading is virtually perfect. The Fifties feature amazing human achievements, horrible human depravity & more -- much more than I realized before listening to this fine work.

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  • Manish
  • 04-12-20

America's Decade

This is a long book but absolutely brilliant. It shows how America ruled the world in the 50s economically, militarily and culturally and laid the foundations for the coming years. A whole host of characters good and bad from the the worlds of politics, TV, radio, sport and food. I loved it and you will be well rewarded regarding this under appreciated decade in America.